UDL IN THE DIGITAL AGE DIVIDE
Students with disabilities access the regular classroom curriculum through Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which provides assistive or adaptive technology to address their needs. UD became a federal law in the late 1900s (U.S.C. § 3002), so the 21st century global and diverse population of students experienced curriculum change to accommodate their needs that the generalized educational practice did not meet (Orkwis & McLane, 1998; Rose & Meyer, 2000). UD made classrooms accessible to diversity thanks to the works of Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, Ross, Wood, Bloom and modern neuroscience that opened the doors to new researches (CAST, 2011). The last fifty years of AYP has maintained a constant underperforming pattern in regard to special needs, culturally diverse, and students of poverty (Edyburn, 2010). Special needs students cannot take advantage of mobile devices apps, considered by UD as a tool only, not as a learning device. Boone & Higgins shows the flexibility of iPhone apps allows disabled learners to reach out to meet their specific accommodations interacting with learning activities (2016). Educators must identify what is UD in the learning context to maximize the performance of the needed student rather than measuring learning outcomes from interventions that ultimately focus on products that don’t specifically address the learning needs of disabled students (Edyburn, 2010). Boone & Higgins argue that smart technology globalized connectivity and interaction also changed the instructional design from the individual aspect of diversity, culture, and knowledge level (2016). Educators argue that the goal is to keep simple by applying strategies and materials that allow students to access with the devices and apps they know best (Boone & Higgins, 2016, Madea, 2006, and Gould, 2012). iPhones and iPads’ learning apps are considered engaging tools to learn by UD, but their controversial researches do not find achievement statistically significant when measuring students’ outcomes from learning activities derived from iPhones and iPads. These mobile devices cannot be separated from apps and learning contents interactivity, offering diverse media capability to improve needed students’ performance and help close the achievement gap in AYPs. It is difficult to challenge UDL’s remaining curriculum goals, assessments, media, materials, and methods. Digital technology is not in the UD curriculum but treated as an assistive/adaptive tool only (Boone & Higgins, 2016). However, mobile learning in education has evolved in classrooms; it fosters learning opportunities for impoverished kids, build skills needed for communication and collaboration, and allows for personalized learning targeting for the specific needs of a learner (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009, Shuler, 2009). The number of interactive touch screen devices such as iPads and iPhones are rapidly growing (Radesky, Schumacher, & Zuckerman, 2015; Cristia, & Seidl, 2015), and becoming ubiquitous in the lives of early childhood classroom and homes (Verenikina & Kervin, 2011). iPhones and iPads offer children anytime, anywhere learning (Radesky, Schumacher, & Zuckerman, 2015; Brand & Kinash, 2010). Already benefitting millions of users worldwide, digital apps feature dictation, predictive text, translation, GPS, interactive math, video creation, interactive literature, digital data and citation, graphing, and virtual fieldtrips are some learning apps addressed in this study.